The Loch Eck Grahams
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Hop on a ferry and join us as we climb two of the Cowal Peninsula's finest hills!
Situated to the west of Loch Eck, Beinn Mhòr (741m) and Beinn Bheag (618m) are two of the eight Grahams (hills between 2000 and 2500 ft) on the Cowal Peninsula - the body of land located between the Firth of Clyde and Loch Fyne, studded by a number of sea lochs on its south-east side. ODL last climbed Beinn Mhòr in 2012 so a return visit is long overdue. If time permits, it is planned to climb both hills in a clockwise circuit of approx. 13 miles (we can miss out Beinn Bheag if we're short of daylight though). The last five miles or so of the walk take us down the Bernice Glen and along a track on the west shore of Loch Eck, so manageable in dusk (bring a head-torch if you have one).
Although the walk is reachable entirely by road a short ferry crossing provides a much quicker route from the Glasgow area.
Dogs: The walk is suitable for dogs, which must be kept under control at all times, particularly near livestock.
Photos: taken by the leader on a previous walk in April 2012 and free for others to use.
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What to bring
Boots: Hiking boots are arguably the most essential piece of kit when hiking just about anywhere. Walkers should make sure that their boots are both waterproof and breathable and provide good ankle support. Boots should also be in good condition.
Socks: Walking socks are often overshadowed by those new to hiking, with many novices failing to invest in proper socks. Good walking socks are essential to keep the feet dry, and in turn stopping the development of blisters. Sports socks and other socks not designed for walking will often become waterlogged or damaged which will in turn blister feet.
Gaiters: Gaiters attach to the bottom of walking boots and extend to just under the knee. They provide waterproofing for the bottom half of the leg and are essential in keeping the feet dry.
Walking Trousers: Walking trousers should be of a windproof design and made of a rip stop material, that will stand up to walking through ferns and undergrowth. They should also ideally be water resistant, or at least not gain weight, and lose their insulation properties when wet. Jeans are therefore to be avoided, as they are heavy when wet and provide no protection from the elements.
Waterproof Trousers: Waterproof trousers are essential in keeping the legs dry, as water resistant trousers will not keep out any significant rainfall. Walkers should look for waterproof trousers that are breathable, in order to avoid being soaked with sweat.
Base Layer: A breathable base layer should be chosen in order to let sweat escape from the body. This should ideally consist of a breathable synthetic, specially designed fabric, though a cotton T-Shirt is sufficient.
Mid Layer: A Mid Layer goes on top of the base layer and should consist of a 100-weight micro fleece, or a rugby typed thick shirt. The layering system is important as it allows walkers to quickly adapt to changes in the weather as well as body temperature.
Outer Layer: The outer layer should consist of a windproof jacket or a thick fleece. This is the final layer and walkers should ensure that this layer provides ample warmth.
Waterproof Jacket: A good waterproof jacket is one of the most important pieces of kit you will require when hiking. Walkers should look for a jacket that is both waterproof and breathable in order for them to be protected from sweat. Materials such as Gore-Tex™ are often the best choices.
Hat: As most heat is lost through the head a good hat is essential. The best hats are those of a fleece design, with wool also being acceptable.
Gloves: Gloves are essential in the colder months as walkers will require the usage of their fingers for various activities such as map reading. Windproof or better still waterproof gloves are the best choice.
Rucksack: A good Rucksack that is comfortable to wear is essential and required to carry both food and equipment. Day sacks should have a capacity of around 30-40 litres with equipment being placed in waterproof bags or a liner inside.
Emergency Equipment: A number of items should be taken in case problems occur whilst walking in the hills. Emergency equipment becomes of greater importance the further from civilisation walkers are. Equipment should include spare food stuffs of high energy, a survival bag, a whistle, a medical kit, a head-torch and something to make fire, either storm proof matches or a firelighter.
Food & Water: At least two litres of water should be brought for each day hiking, with more being taken if cooking is required. Enough food for the duration of a walk should also be taken. Food should be of the high energy variety, with hot food being able to be eaten raw if necessary.
Map & Compass: Bring a map and compass if you are interested in doing some navigating practice!
Mobile Phone: A mobile phone should also be brought and kept in a waterproof bag for use in emergencies.
Winter Equipment: In winter conditions and ice-axe and crampons may be necessary.
Food & drink
Bring a packed lunch and ensure you also have plenty of water and spare food in your rucksack. At this time of year, a flask with soup or a hot drink might be a good idea.